It was April 18th, 1942 and the USS Hornet was turning into the wind, to give the aircraft on the deck the most lift that they could get. The men in the B-25 Mitchell bombers had trained for this day…a day that would prove to be more symbolic than destructive. Sixteen aircraft took off, bound for the Japanese homeland, in a surprise attack to show the Empire of the Rising Sun that America was not defeated…not by a long shot. The raid was successful, but the aftermath was not. Our ally, Russia, interned one of the crews for a year. The Japanese captured eight of the fliers and executed three of them. It was a bold move by brave men who, if they thought about it at all, probably knew that it might very well be a suicide mission.
In The War Between the States, on December 5th, 1861 a Confederate soldier observed a Union soldier moving, and the distance between them was calculated to be around 1400 yards. The sniper fired, and a moment or two later the Union soldier lay dead, and the troops around him were completely baffled as to where the shot had come. Patrols were sent out but because of the distance involved, it was never considered that a sniper could make a shot like that. Even today, it’s ranked as the 14th longest shot in history. Considering the technology that was around in the 1860’s, it probably was something of a miracle that the shot could be made, but the Whitworth rifle was the best of what was available.
Our twenty-sixth President, Theodore Roosevelt, was a man among men. Once, while he was giving a speech, an assassin shot him in the chest…Teddy continued on with the speech. He single-handedly changed himself from a sickly boy to a robust man, becoming an expert marksman, running his own cattle ranch and being the leader of the “Rough Riders” in the Spanish American war. When his own political party rejected him, he formed the Bull Moose party. As President he showed the flag by sending the US Navy around the world, and all the ships were painted white, thus earning the name The Great White Fleet, and presenting the United States as a world power. In 1906 he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize, for actually doing something to bring peace to the world. He is carved into the Mount Rushmore façade along with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. Good company, I’d say.
More people have probably heard of Edison than Tesla…unless they associate the name Tesla with an electric car. Nicola Tesla was an American of Serbian birth and one of the great geniuses of his, or any other time. When Edison was bringing light to the world, via direct current, Tesla was working on alternating current…which is the system that the world uses today. He died in 1943, and a unit of magnetic flux density is called a tesla. He put on demonstrations of high-voltage by sitting in a chair and having spark-like bolts of thousands of volts crashing around him, with no harm to him. In the 1893 World’s Fair, Tesla put on an exhibition and an observer noted: Within the room was suspended two hard-rubber plates covered with tin foil. These were about fifteen feet apart, and served as terminals of the wires leading from the transformers. When the current was turned on, the lamps or tubes, which had no wires connected to them, but lay on a table between the suspended plates, or which might be held in the hand in almost any part of the room, were made luminous. These were the same experiments and the same apparatus shown by Tesla in London about two years previous, “where they produced so much wonder and astonishment.”
We have people like this in the United States today, believe it or not…but between political correctness, silly regulations and downright stupidity on the part of the Federal government many of these people are ignored and their creations never see the light of day. I remember, way back in the late 1940’s there was a story about something called the Pogue carburetor. It was a device that would greatly increase the miles-per-gallon of the automobiles on the road. The story goes that the-then Big Three, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, along with Big Oil bought the patent and buried the idea.
Then there was the Winchester, the Sharps, and the Henry rifles which, along with the Colt six-shooter, tamed the wild, wild west. Firearm technology has always been a painful process primarily due to the failures sometimes being fatal for the shooter. Samuel Colt, the maker of the six-shooter, had a line attributed to him, that pretty much summed it all up. It was said that God created Man, but it was Colt that made them all equal. At a time when single-shot rifles and revolvers were still high on the list of technological wonders, a lever-action repeating rifle and a six-shot repeating revolver were eagerly sought, and gun salesman traversed the west selling everything they could get from the factories.
We were a nation of doers, makers of wonders and our kids were in what I believe was the finest education system in the world. Now, most of that is gone and I cry for my beloved country.
Larry Usoff, US Navy Retired
(aka The Old Alarmist)
Duty. Honor. Country.
Image: B-25B Mitchell bomber takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet; public domain; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Army_B-25_(Doolittle_Raid).jpg